11 New Orleans police officers under federal investigation over pay details | Crime/Police

Nearly a dozen New Orleans Police Department officers are under federal investigation for allegedly falsifying their work hours and lining up with leave details, officials confirmed Friday.

In response to a Thursday report from WVUE-TV, the department acknowledged that the FBI is currently investigating 11 agents — up from five who sources said received “target” federal letters earlier this year over the US scandal. wages.

The city also confirmed that an internal investigation revealed Capt. Sabrina Richardson, the former senior officer in the NOPD’s Office of Public Integrity, committed a myriad of detail-related violations. The department said it forwarded a report Friday to District Attorney Jason Williams’ office for review of possible criminal charges. Richardson leads the NOPD’s Third District.

The six additional officers under federal investigation do not include Richardson, and none of them received target letters, the department said.

The department confirmed that Capt. Nicholas Gernon, who was tapped to investigate Richardson, found 44 violations of NOPD policy. The ministry declined to provide the report, citing an ongoing investigation.

Richardson was briefly suspended from his leave privileges last fall along with several other officers as the department began investigating their time sheets. Richardson’s retail privileges were revoked again on April 11, a week after Gernon’s report, the department said.

Skip Gallagher, a University of New Orleans chemistry professor whose analysis of city and NOPD pay records revealed the scandal, said Friday that the time sheets of at least four other officers current or former Office of Public Integrity reflected similar abuses.

“There are too many officers, and it’s particularly troubling that so many current and former GDP officers are involved,” Gallagher said. “The police of the police should be beyond reproach.”

The NOPD said none of the 11 officers under federal investigation had been assigned to the Office of Public Integrity at the time of their alleged misconduct.

Overlaps and busy hours

Richardson’s timesheets revealed “multiple occasions where she duplicated work or had work schedules that were just impossible,” Gallagher said.

Records show that in 2019, when she earned $141,000, including $34,000 from retail, Richardson logged overlapping service and retail hours and often exceeded the 16.35-hour limit on a 24 hour period.

In March 2019 alone, his recorded details and shifts overlapped four times. Three times that month she exceeded the daily work limit, then doubled again in April, Gallagher found.

City records show Richardson worked steadily in the Fairgrounds neighborhood for years, as well as off-duty work at the UNO Lakefront Arena and elsewhere.

“There are others who are worse. Those who are in front of the FBI now are worse. But she does, and she (was) the senior GDP officer,” Gallagher said. “And that’s really worrying.”

Gallagher said he identified more than 40 NOPD officers with time sheets that together show repeated overlaps in service and detail work or excessive hours. The force stands at just over 1,000 officers.

Multiple surveys

Following media reports late last year, the NOPD announced an investigation with the New Orleans Office of Inspector General and the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor.

According to the department, 33 officers were investigated related to the retail system, which has been run by the city since 2013. Previously, officers largely operated it themselves.

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Among them, the department said, 11 cases involved potential criminal allegations, 14 officers entered into negotiated settlements that included short suspensions and 8 triggered administrative investigations. Another officer was fired in an unrelated matter, the department said.

NOPD Sgt. Todd Morrell pulls the casing of a 40mm Stinger rubber bullet from the launcher after firing it during a demonstration of the weapons used to clear protesters from the Crescent City Connection bridge last week at a training facility in New -Orleans East on June 9. 2020.

Sources say FBI target letters were sent to the former NOPD sergeant. Todd Morell; his brother, Officer Nicholas Morrell; sergeant. Rene Benjamin; sergeant. Michael Stalbert and Officer Brian Sullivan.

Todd Morrell retired last year, shortly after WVUE repeatedly found him driving a race car on a West Bank track while being checked in for police work.

The Morrells, siblings of City Council member JP Morrell, both held regular details at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Their father, Arthur Morrell, recently retired as a longtime clerk of Orleans Parish Criminal Court and is a Fair Grounds rider.

“Confusion at all levels”

Donovan Livaccari, an attorney for the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said many suspicious entries on the timesheets he reviewed show errors, petty infractions or allowances that the timesheets do not. not reveal.

“I’ve seen a lot that were exaggerated. I would say these things can be a lot more complicated than they look,” he said.

Stella Cziment, the independent police monitor, said only cases of suspected double dipping are being investigated by criminals. Many of the minor infractions were the result of “political confusion at all levels of the chain of command”, she said, particularly regarding a 16.5-hour-a-day cap.

“There will always be ways for bad actors to be able to manipulate the rules and systems. But I think what we’re seeing is just a lot of confusion and a lot of mistakes,” she said.

Ongoing changes

In a hearing last month, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, who oversees departmental reforms, called the payroll scandal “very concerning.” But Morgan didn’t see it as an obstacle to NOPD’s plans to begin to emerge from federal oversight. She said she hopes next month to place the NOPD into a 2-year “holding period” with reduced oversight.

Jonathan Aronie, the lead federal comptroller, acknowledged that audits of the retail system stopped years ago after it was passed under the consent decree.

When the media began to surface last fall about officers abusing details, officials from the city’s Police Secondary Employment Office said they were watching closely. But NOPD officials quickly recognized that the two payroll systems could not communicate with each other.

The department produced a PowerPoint presentation on its investigation, which covered three years of timesheets, and a host of actions taken since in training, technology, monitoring and auditing.

“It resulted in policy clarifications, department-wide refreshers and multiple levels of investigation,” Cziment said. “I think there will be additional investigations that will be carried out as the audits continue.”

She said the department is also looking closely at supervisors’ roles in approving or failing to spot agents’ questionable timesheets.

A New Orleans FBI spokesperson declined to confirm or deny an officer investigation, citing Justice Department policy.

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